You have your travel arrangements confirmed, booked your hotel, and excitedly opened the envelope with your show credentials. You might think you have done your pre-show prep, but you haven’t started until you think about and incorporate these 10 tips for your SHOT Show success:
1. Avoid the SHOT Show Crud. Generally people measure how successful their show was based on if they come out the other side without taking home the “SHOT Show crud.” Travel can be hard on a person, add 60,000 people with germs, many handshakes, and long days — your body needs support! Boost your immune system by taking Airborne and Emergency C during the week before you leave for the show. Take your vitamins, too! During the show you will see Purell everywhere… use it! Wash your hands every chance you get, and be mindful not to touch your face too much.
2. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate. You are walking a lot more than what your body might be used to, operating on less sleep, and you are in the desert climate that will suck the water right out of you. If you are partaking in evening cocktails, you need to drink even more water! Stock your hotel room with bottled water, bring a reusable bottle with you to the show, and take advantage of the water stations in the main hallways. This will save your budget!
3. Remember to Eat. There are so many amazing places to eat at the Venetian, but the hustle and bustle everyday on the show floor can make it hard to get a good lunch. Schedule a break time to eat and pack your favorite snacks so you have something in case you get hangry. If you are enjoying cocktails in the evening, you especially need to make sure to eat. Those little drinks (or big ones) will sneak up on you and make your hectic days even more draining.
4. Fashion Police. You can’t go wrong with business casual. It is most important to be comfortable and professional. Jeans are acceptable and bring a light sweater or wear long sleeves because it gets chilly on the floor. If your days are packed with meetings, plan accordingly to transition your outfit and do a make up refresh on your way to dinners and parties. Shoes are a girl’s (or guy’s) best friend. You have permission to pack more shoes! With miles of aisles and concrete floors, wearing different shoes every day, or every other day, changes strain on pressure points in your feet and stress in your legs. You don’t have to decide between comfort or fashion because you have a lot of options, but leave your heels at home (or pack them away for the evenings or times when you may want them).
5. Badge Holders and Business Cards. Some companies have really nice lanyards that will last you for years and snagging one is a status symbol. Ideally you want a badge holder that has pockets in the front and back. Designate a pocket to keep your own business cards for quick access, and store other people’s cards in the main compartment for follow up when you return home. Make sure you always have a pen handy to make notes on the cards you collect to help you remember the contacts. Clean your collected cards out at the end of each day and organize them with additional notes while conversations are fresh on your mind.
6. Have a Plan and Move with Purpose. A first-timer’s mistake is not knowing what you are walking into… literally. Start by identifying your goals for the show. Make a list of all of the booths you want to visit and put them in order of priority: Must Stop, Should Stop, Want To Stop. Plan your Day 1 for your must-stops, Day 2 for should-stops, Days 3 & 4 can be filled with your want-to-stops and backtracking to others that you see along the way. I prefer to divide my days by location: Day 1 & 3 is on the main floor and Day 2 & 4 is on the lower level. I align my meetings at must-stop, should-stop, want-to-stop booths according to which floor I will be on so I am not running up and down escalators all day. Move with a purpose from one meeting or booth to the next by knowing where you are going and how to get there. If you happen to be taking the scenic route with no real plan or sense of urgency PLEASE do not wonder aimlessly through the aisles or stop dead in the middle of the aisles while others are trying to move with the flow. If you have to stop, step to the side out of the walkway, then merge back in with caution! Situational awareness does not stop when you arrive at the show. Have knowledge of your surroundings and act accordingly.
7. Use a Map. Download the SHOT Show app to your smartphone so you can search for booths, plan your routes, and find your way. If your phone is without a charge, you can find printed maps throughout the floor and in the daily publications handed out each morning. There are over 1,600 booths at the show and while they are usually in the same place from year to year, sometimes changes occur in the floor plan. Download a .pdf of the SHOT Show floor map to use for your planning.
8. Mama Says I’m Special. Yes you are! However, you are one of over 60,000 attendees, so the exhibitors do not have a lot of time to spend with you. Do not expect to land a major meeting with the CEO of your dream company; it can happen but not usually without an appointment. When talking with exhibitors be mindful of the time you are spending at their booths, gather the information you need, and make an appointment to come back or follow up after the show.
9. Bring a Good Tote Bag and Pack What You Need. Leave the rolling milk crate carts at home and resist the urge to pick up a free one. The floor gets very crowded and those toting around milk crates with wheels become dangerous trip hazards to others. Bring a decent sized bag with comfortable shoulder straps and a lot of pockets to keep your swag and notes organized than just a big dump bag. Bring a mini “go bag” with an extra phone charger, aspirin, ibuprofen, Band-Aids, nail file and clippers, and other tools you may need.
10. Network. SHOT Show is a great place to network with others. Many companies host social hours, after-parties, or other events that give you face-to-face time with an exhibitor or celebrity that you might not meet on the floor. While indiscretions are supposed to “stay in Vegas,” your choices could sabotage any good networking if you drink too much or are too tired to make a good impression. Have a good time and exchange business cards with new friends, so that you can keep in touch after the show.
I have been planning my SHOT Show schedule for past few weeks and preparing for meetings will only get busier as the dates get closer. The magical moment you walk onto the floor can be overwhelming if it is your first time — or it can be exciting to see old friends again that you see year after year. A positive attitude and a smile always makes travel and the show experience a bit brighter. Have your plans, map, and hand sanitizer, so you can thrive and survive your SHOT Show experience!